Point-and-click adventures are great for presenting unique stories in video games. If you enjoy such an experience, then you may wish to dive into Lucid Dream, a surreal point-and-click adventure from the appropriately named Polish developer Dali Games. You play as Lucy, a wheelchair-bound child who is deeply concerned about her mother’s welfare. The family has recently suffered a devastating loss, and as a result, Lucy’s mother has sunk into a deep depression. It’s an intriguing story that is intelligently told, albeit with a somewhat rushed and disappointing ending. From a gameplay perspective, Lucid Dream errs on the easy side and plays it safe with its standard point-and-click adventure puzzles.
When Lucid Dream begins, Lucy is sitting in her wheelchair alone in a dark bedroom, wondering whether she can make her mom well again. It’s a somewhat depressing setting and the game periodically returns to it. Most of the time, however, is spent gallivanting across various dreamscapes, solving puzzles, and helping out the various NPCs you meet. Locations include a tiny planet, the rooftops of a city, and a colorful fantasy world that show off a lot of imagination in its creation. You are never in one place for too long and the story proceeds at a brisk pace – a refreshing change from adventure games that are guilty of padding their length with filler puzzles and keeping you in one place for too long.
Speaking of the puzzles, Lucid Dream offers a solid, if unspectacular, batch of them. The game plays it safe and opts for the typical adventure game fare. Lucy has an inventory and she can pick up standard genre items, like pieces of machinery, keys, and lots of other objects that can either be used in the real world or given to other characters. Lucy also completes typical tasks, such as pushing buttons, pulling levers, and finding combinations for locks. If you get stuck, the game uses a hint system that unlocks tips in your journal as you progress. However, the results are somewhat mixed and it’s easy to squander a hint without learning anything that will help you. For the most part, though, you shouldn’t need many hints if you’re an experienced point-and-click adventurer. The puzzles are sufficiently logical (in spite of the game’s illogical settings) and the environments are designed with plenty of visual cues to help you progress through the game. Some of them are perhaps too easy – so much that a few of the chapters end up a little too close to walking simulators. At least those parts are few and far between enough though that the game never feels as if it’s playing itself.
Developer Dali Games makes it no secret who inspired the studio and their game. I’m happy to report that if the famous surrealist painter were alive today, he would most likely approve Lucid Dream by the outfit that bears his name. The inspired, crisp, hand-drawn visuals do a terrific job of providing the game’s atmosphere and giving you all kinds of attractive environments to bask in as you progress through it. Since you won’t be spending more than a half hour on any specific level, you’re occasionally going to want to stop for a minute to enjoy the scenery and smell the flowers for a moment. It’s not uncommon for a game by a small studio to be guilty of reusing assets and environments, but Lucid Dream is rarely guilty of that sin. It doesn’t recycle any of its music either, providing you with a different tune for each of the dozen brief chapters.
Lucid Dream’s gameplay exists as a vehicle for delivering its story and atmosphere. It intelligently explores adult themes through the eyes of an imaginative child. Lucy and her mother have become isolated from each another and Lucy has become lonely and confused. She recognizes that something has gone seriously wrong, but she’s not yet old enough to comprehend it. So, she soon takes it upon herself to go on a quest to rescue her mother — a quest that takes her on a journey where she’s no longer bound in a wheelchair, but where she gets to be the hero. The setup works very well and the story is, for the most part, an asset to the game. However, it’s perhaps a little too obscure for its own good at times. The final chapter goes by too quickly, arriving at a somewhat abrupt and slightly unsatisfying ending. It could perhaps be the result of some of the meaning having been lost in the translation. Ultimately, the story is a good one, but it does leave some potential on the table.
The point-and-click adventure genre has been around long enough so that there isn’t much ground left to break in the gameplay. There are, however, a multitude of stories left to tell and environments to explore. Dali Games’s Lucid Dream tells one of these stories as you journey through some interesting locations. It’s not necessarily a game for players looking for brilliantly devious puzzles and new mechanics, but from an artistic standpoint it succeeds in some important ways. Its pleasant visuals and music are cornerstones for a quality adventure time, even if it’s otherwise not overly ambitious and suffers from occasional flaws. However, the game is fairly easy to recommend if you’re looking for a story that explores themes such as mental health and tragedy.